I own nothing you recognize. All original characters and storylines are my own.

This story is dedicated to the lovely Verda Napoli who has helped me more than she realizes with my stories and had given me true confidence as a writer. Also, Superdani who is a wonderful friend and great sounding board and, last but not least, Dutch'76 who leaves these amazingly insightful and inspirational reviews. You ladies have all done more for me than you can possibly realize and I just want to thank you for that.

Word Association

Night

Juice lay back against the prison regulation pillow and stared at the ceiling while Clay snored heavily in the bed across the cell from him. Sleep hadn't come quickly to him since he'd been inside. In fact he only slept when he was exhausted and only ate when he was starving. This was far from his first stint in prison, but this time he wouldn't be out in a week or a month. This time he was in it for a long haul. He sighed and looked over at his father-in-law and shook his head. Clay had no problem adapting to this and to Hap and Tig this was second nature. Juice knew that eventually he'd get used to this but, for now, it was hard and night was the worst.

Night always reminded him of his wife. Her hair darker than the midnight sky, eyes that took on the black of a freshly painted tank, and the stones in that ring on her finger. The darkness was also when she came alive, a night owl, she did her best work when the sun went down and was sharpest. Night was also the time when he held her, when he was inside of her. Night was their time. The time when he could run his lips and teeth along her skin, give her bruises that she'd be too proud to cover up. Marks from her man.

He grinned to himself as he thought about the last bruise he was able to give her on the inside of her thigh, he'd been a little too eager and bitten a little too hard, but groaned in frustration as he felt himself get hard. In annoyance he looked over at Clay and cursed Stahl for the millionth time. Thanks to her he couldn't rub one out. He had the man who had been like his father for years across the room and he just couldn't do that shit, he wasn't like Tig.

Family

Juice had never really had a family. He lived in a bad neighborhood in Queens with his single mother and no one else. She loved him, this he knew for sure, but she worked three jobs to keep them afloat and left him to raise himself for the most part. When she died he had nothing holding him there so he went out west moving from town to town and never finding a connection to keep him there. Then he bounced to Charming when a job opportunity opened up and felt connected to the deceptively calm and laid-back little town. He had stayed on and started seeing the Sons every time he turned noticed him too and that's when things in his life took a drastic change.

Once he started hanging around the Club and getting to know the outlaws he sensed that he'd finally started to find the family he was looking for. Yeah they ridiculed him constantly and more often than not made him their bitch. More than that though, he knew that if he needed them they'd have his back and that made the decision to prospect a no brainer. Well that knowledge and a petite, black-haired beauty who was the star of all his most x-rated fantasies from the moment he laid eyes on her. Being a prospect meant that he'd see her and that cemented it.

As soon as that patch was on his back he'd had the start of the family he'd always dreamed of. He had a group of brothers to care for and who'd take care of him and a woman who would become his wife and give him children. A woman he would have a real family with. A woman who'd just given birth to their daughter.

Juice grinned as he looked at the tat Hap had tattooed on his chest with the crude gun he'd put together with a couple of AA batteries, a small motor and the shaft of a cheap pen. Even with the imperfect set up Hap had been a master as he inked Esperanza's birthday on his chest below his and Milla's anniversary, then his babygirl's name on his collarbone. It hurt like a bitch, but it was worth it to have his daughter's name marking him forever. Next the Paiute symbol for "Father" was inked below the one for "Husband" on his bicep by Charlie, their red skinned protector, and it was finally starting to feel real, not a dream any longer. He had a family now and he'd die, fight and kill to protect them, all of them.

Trust

Trust was something you had to have if you were an outlaw. You had to trust your brother's to have your back, trust your allies not to turn. Trust yourself to do the right thing and Juice had never had a problem with trust until they went to Belfast and he saw the other side of being a 1%er.

He saw men turn on their brothers and disrespect the patch on their back. He saw his brother-in law lose it and almost abandon his son. He saw his father-in law kill a man who had been his brother for thirty years without a second thought. He saw all of that and at the same time he saw a plan built upon trust and respect among brothers come to fruition, they were alive because they had trusted one another implicitly.

On the surface he trusted all of his brothers. He'd fought beside them and fought for them but lately he'd been feeling more cut off from the man who was "real" family to him. Through Milla he had a father for the first time in his life, but now he didn't feel as though he could completely trust him. He wouldn't admit it but he was afraid of Clay, afraid of the man he was in Belfast and afraid of the man he was becoming within the prison walls. In Belfast he'd watched Cay kiss McGee then push him off the roof. It was done so coldly, so mechanically that he could hardly reconcile the man who'd done that with the man who'd danced with his daughter at their wedding. With the man who was so proud to be a grandfather again. He knew Clay could be a cold and heartless bastard but he didn't realize the depths he would go to for the Club. That was the factor that made these feelings harder for Juice to handle. Everything Clay did was justified, he'd done what he did because McGee had betrayed the Club, had dishonored the patch on his back and all the men that shared it. His death was inevitable and it really was only fitting that Clay finish it, but it still left Juice with this feeling at the back of his mind that the man he'd followed blindly for so many years truly was dangerous. Not just to him but the family he'd formed and that thought filled him with fear and a new resolve. He'd protect his family in any way he could. Even if it meant he'd have to go against Clay to do it, but he really hoped it wouldn't come to that.

Freedom

Juice walked down the hallway with his brothers and couldn't keep the smile off his face. Soon he'd be free, he'd hold his wife in his arms and get to play with his daughter. It was almost surreal as he thought about the fact that these drab, depressing walls wouldn't be holding him in anymore, he'd be in his little yellow house with his office and the modified garage in the back. He'd be home.

He stood by Hap as he took his belongings out of the bag. The first thing he did was put on his sunglasses, then he attached his wallet chain to his belt loop and saw that he still had all his important shit in the wallet. The final thing he did was put on his rings. As every small metal circle found it's way on his finger it became more real. It was the last ring that cemented it for him, a simple silver band with a Celtic knot banding the center, so different from his other rings. This ring symbolized what he lived for, who he lived for and he'd missed it the most. Now that he had it on his finger he knew his ordeal was over, he knew he was free.

The first gulp of free air had been the sweetest. It held so much promise, so much life. It wasn't like the recycled prison air that was as oppressive as the walls that had surrounded him. This air would lead him home.

He grinned wide as he hugged Koz and Phil gave him his cut. He raised his eyebrow as he saw the "Prospect" patch still on Phil's cut. Phil gave an embarrassed grin and just said that he "fucked up" so Juice just nodded and hugged the big man who'd helped him in so many ways. As he got on his bike he felt right for the first time in so long that he couldn't hold in the laugh as they pulled out of the lot. He was leaving the prison and going home. Home to his family.

As they pulled into the T-M Lot Juice felt all the annoyance and apprehension he'd been had since meeting the new Sheriff leave his body and be replaced by joy. As soon as he parked he took off his helmet and practically threw it to the bike as he walked to his wife. She'd never been more beautiful as she stood there holding their daughter with a smile on her face and happy tears streaming down. As he held her in his arms and kissed her sweet lips he felt the last of the walls come down. Now he was truly free.


Author's Note: I'm having a wee bit of writer's block with Down the Road and Brath but this story came to me and wouldn't leave until I wrote it down. I feel that there are issues under the surface and I sense this tension between Juice and Clay so I wanted to play with it a bit so these scenarios came to me. I hope you all enjoyed it and thank you in advance for reading and reviewing.